FIVE people have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping immigrants in Algeciras.

The Guardia Civil detained four Moroccans and one Spaniard as part of an operation launched last August.

It came after reports a gang was imprisoning immigrants before demanding money from their families in exchange for their return.

The gang would focus on what they observed to be likely targets among incoming immigrants and would promise to help them reunite with their families in Spain, but instead transported them to a house in La Bajadilla de Algeciras.

The immigrants were locked in rooms, stripped of all their personal belongings, and then interrogated in order to determine how much money could be asked from their relatives for their safe return.

The gang would then contact the relatives by telephone and ask them to pay a ransom of anything between €500 and €2,000, depending on the family’s financial circumstances.

The men of the gang were largely responsible for the initial action of finding the immigrants and transporting them to the house in Algeciras, while the women were in charge of the custody and surveillance of the victims.

The five culprits have been charged and bail refused. The police operation will continue as they attempt to locate and identify other victims.

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